NEW YORK (AP) — NBC's "Chicago Fire," about firefighters and EMTs at the Chicago Fire Department, took a beat to find its footing, but is now the tent pole of a growing Dick Wolf franchise that includes "Chicago P.D.," ''Chicago Med" and the upcoming "Chicago Justice."
Taylor Kinney, who plays Lieutenant Kelly Severide, is helping the series mark its 100th episode, airing Tuesday.
"It took a while to get a sustainable (ratings) number where we were like, 'OK, we're in the clear. We're good,'" he said.
Kinney, 35, is especially proud of how "Chicago Fire" has led the way for more TV and film production in the windy city.
"Now there's 'Empire' (on Fox), the four 'Chicago' shows, 'Exorcist' (also on Fox). It's just done so much for the city and I think maybe for a long time it was underrated as a backdrop or a place to tell stories, but there's no lack of cinematography of where you can shoot and how to use the city. ... I couldn't count how many people locally it employs," he said.
Shooting on location also helped members of the cast, which includes Jesse Spencer, Monica Raymund and Eamonn Walker, bond together.
"It created this familial atmosphere. We were forced to hang out and do things the first season whereas if you do something in LA or New York, it's more of a work environment," he said. "... We didn't know anyone. I didn't know anyone, maybe one or two people, but you spend time with these people. Someone's like, 'I'm gonna have dinner' or 'I'm gonna have a poker night,' and then it happened where we all just kind of enjoy each other's company."
Kinney said he's also become friends with real-life police officers and firefighters.
"I can't count how many. My appreciation has grown," he said.
Being in Chicago also provides some anonymity. Kinney, who was engaged to Lady Gaga until their split earlier this year, said he doesn't really get followed by paparazzi there.
"People are pretty gentle in Chicago."
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